Michaela Weidenbrück


A clear course: Climate-neutral operations, digital inclusion, and excellent transparency

  • A comprehensive plan for reaching climate neutrality: Deutsche Telekom is the first DAX-40 heavyweight to have a scientifically founded net-zero climate goal in place
  • Digital participation: Our commitment for an inclusive digital world, and for a clear stand against online hate speech
  • Excellent transparency: Deutsche Telekom is once again listed in the leading sustainability indices
CR Report 2023

Climate-neutral operations, digital inclusion, and excellent transparency. DT became more sustainable in 2023. © Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom became more sustainable in 2023: It lowered its CO2 emissions by 11 percent (Scope 1 through 3) and cut its energy consumption by 7.6 percent. In our new Corporate Responsibility Report, we present a summary of our efforts, and describe our progress, in the area of ESG (Environment, Social und Governance) in 2023.

“We also prioritize transparency when it comes to climate change mitigation. At Deutsche Telekom, we have set ourselves an important target: We want to achieve net zero emissions throughout our entire value chain by 2040. That said, we need to do even more to make sustainability an integral part of our core business,” stated Timotheus Höttges, Deutsche Telekom CEO. 

Climate-neutral business operations: Moving toward “net zero” with the help of a climate-transition plan

Deutsche Telekom is working steadily and determinedly to make its business operations climate-neutral, and to ensure that all of its systems, equipment, and devices are recyclable and compatible with a circular economy. The company is aiming to achieve climate neutrality (“net zero“) by 2040. In a first step, this goal is to be achieved within the company itself (Scope 1 and 2), by the end of 2025. By 2030, we are planning to reduce emissions in our supply chain, and in our products’ service lives for our customers (Scope 1-3), by 55 percent with respect to 2020. By 2040, we want that reduction figure to increase to at least 90 percent. The remaining reductions will be achieved via high-quality carbon capture projects. 

In 2023, Deutsche Telekom submitted its goals to the renowned Science Based Targets initiative, for review.  The result: Deutsche Telekom is the first DAX-40 heavyweight to have a confirmed, science-based, net-zero climate target in place. Deutsche Telekom is also demonstrating international leadership on this issue. T-Mobile US is the first company within the U.S. telecommunications industry to have committed itself to becoming climate-neutral, on the SBTi basis, by 2040.

The new climate-transition plan is a roadmap to net zero, a pathway for translating climate targets into practice. The key factors to consider include the power used by the company’s networks; the fuel consumed by its vehicle fleet; the heating/cooling energy used in its buildings; the emissions originating in suppliers’ production; and increased product efficiency in products’ service lives for customers. 

Progress in 2023: Lower energy consumption, thanks to green innovations and improved energy efficiency

Deutsche Telekom continues to upgrade its networks’ capacity and performance, in order to keep improving speed and quality in data transmission, and to stay on top of rapidly growing quantities of data. At the same time, it is working to stabilize its energy consumption and enhance its energy efficiency. As a result, the company’s total energy consumption decreased by 7.6 percent with respect to the previous year. 

This was made possible by ongoing green investments in more-efficient network technologies and by replacements of legacy equipment. Also, in its efforts to optimize its energy consumption, the company has been testing solar-energy systems, expanding use of photovoltaics at its mobile sites, and conducting trials with zero-emissions fuel cells that can provide a climate-neutral power supply.  Since 2019, for example, we have already reduced energy consumption at our data centers by over 37 percent. The T-Systems data center in Biere is one of the most energy-efficient data centers in Europe. Since 2021, Deutsche Telekom has been meeting 100 percent of its Group-wide power requirements through renewable sources. And the Group has been supporting the transformation of Germany’s energy sector, by concluding long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) that provide economic security, for operators, for construction of new wind and solar farms.

The company’s improved energy efficiency is now becoming strikingly apparent in the development of its energy intensity. In 2023, the company’s energy intensity, with respect to data volume handled, improved by 23 percentage points over the previous year.

CO2 emissions: 1.3 million metric tons lower, throughout the value chain

In 2023, Deutsche Telekom also achieved significant success in reducing its CO2 emissions. The company’s own emissions (Scope 1 and 2) were cut by 7 percent. Also in 2023, Group-wide emissions throughout the entire value chain decreased in comparison to the previous year: from 11.8 to about 10.5 million metric tons of CO2 (Scope 1-3). Most of these emissions resulted from the manufacture of products and components (especially devices and network equipment), and from customers’ use of our products and services. All in all to date, with this progress we have achieved 23 percent of our goal of reaching climate neutrality (net zero) by 2040.

Back into the loop: We took back 14.5 million mobile devices

Reusing instead of throwing away: Products and materials should be used as long as possible and then reused or recycled, in the framework of a circular economy. By 2030, we want to ensure that all Deutsche Telekom products are suitable for such a holistic circular-economy strategy. Also, and wherever possible, used network equipment and materials consumed by data centers and Telekom shops should be reusable or recyclable. 

As of 2023, Deutsche Telekom can already look back on considerable success in this area. In Germany alone, for example, nearly one million of its customer devices (such as routers and TV set-top boxes) were professionally refurbished for reuse. Group-wide, the company took back a total of 14.5 million used cell phones and fixed-network devices, via its shops and various other channels.

When it comes to mobile devices, a circular economy can function only in cooperation with customers. In 2023, Deutsche Telekom actively promoted such customer involvement, with buyback programs and campaigns and via its TV magazine “Heute retten wir die Welt! Ein bisschen.” (“Today we’re saving the world. A little bit.”). Currently, via a campaign in cooperation with the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund – DFB), Deutsche Telekom is also encouraging people to collect old cell phones and bring them in for recycling.

The company also recycles network equipment – for example, when it replaces copper wiring with fiber-optic lines. In 2023, the company removed nearly 1,579 metric tons of copper cables from cable ducts in Germany and recycled them, in an environmentally sound manner, for further use. In such efforts, up to 90 percent of the copper recovered is returned to the commodity market. 

Digital participation, and our commitment to a cohesive digital society 

For Deutsche Telekom, the social dimension of sustainability is just as important as the ecological one. We are working to enable all people to participate in the digital era. Our efforts in this regard include providing broadband access and digital services; also offering rates and devices tailored to persons with tighter budgets; and assisting and encouraging people to learn how to use digital media competently.

Access to state-of-the-art technologies now plays a key role in economic success and in citizens’ ability to participate in the knowledge and information society. With this in mind, Deutsche Telekom continues to expand its state-of-the-art networks, and to offer ever-greater bandwidth on the basis of new, secure technologies. In 2023, the company invested a total of more than 16 billion euros in this area, with a special focus on building and operating networks. Additional investments were made for the acquisition of mobile communications frequencies.

Since 2022, as part of its efforts to promote affordable 5G access and digital participation, Deutsche Telekom has been offering its new T Phone and T Phone Pro 5G smartphones in nine European countries and in the United States. The phones have also been available in Germany since January 2023. Another new device, the T Tablet, has also been available in Germany and eight other European countries, and in the United States, since 2023. The T Tablet is designed to be an affordable tool for accessing online resources. 

Via a wide range of programs – such as Teachtoday, Scroller, and the Telekom Seniors’ Academy – we have continued to promote media literacy in people of all ages, always with the aim of helping people navigate cyberspace safely, securely and with confidence. 

At the same time, Deutsche Telekom has continued to push for diversity, tolerance, equal opportunity, and cohesion in the digital society. The company’s “No hate speech” (“Gegen Hass im Netz”) initiative, which it launched in summer 2020 in Germany, was continued in 2023, with the aim of raising awareness and helping people practice and uphold basic democratic values online. In 2023, this effort again reached a great many people (with about 865 million media contacts), including the many opinion leaders and educators (about 5.7 million people) we contacted directly.

Our “ShareWithCare” campaign, which we also carried out in 2023, with the aim of raising awareness about the need for caution in any online sharing of children’s photos and data, was well-received worldwide. A public-service message entitled “A Message from Ella” showed the kinds of consequences thoughtless online sharing of children’s photos can have. The message, which was made as an AI deep fake, used a fictitious family as an example. Internationally, the campaign reached some 250 million people. 
In total, around 51 million people benefited from our commitment in the areas of “digital society” and “climate- and resource-saving society” in 2023.

We are a company that people can depend on – also in crisis situations. In 2023, we provided a total of about 1.5 billion euros worth of financial, staffing and material resources to assist people in need. Disaster relief featured prominently within this aid. For example, we offered free telephone service to persons affected by catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey, Syria, and Morocco, and to victims of hurricanes and wildfires in the United States.

Europe’s most valuable corporate brand is honored for transparency

A highly diverse group of more than 200,000 people work for Deutsche Telekom, and the diversity of our workforce is an enormously valuable asset for our Group. In keeping with our awareness of this fact, we offer our employees many different opportunities for personal and professional development. 

Deutsche Telekom’s employees worldwide ensure that our networks run smoothly and our customers receive the best-possible service. And our workforce’s success speaks for itself: In 2023, Deutsche Telekom became one of the world’s top 10 most valuable brands. Among telecommunications-services providers, we rank no. 1 worldwide – and Deutsche Telekom is Europe’s most valuable corporate brand overall. 

Industry analysts give positive marks to Deutsche Telekom's sustainability-oriented corporate management. Rating agencies, for example, have been acknowledging the company’s social and ecological commitment, and the company’s T-Shares are now listed in financial markets’ leading sustainability indices. In 2023, the T-Share was once again listed in indices such as the S&P Global CSA-based DJSI World and DJSI Europe. As of the reference date December 31, 2023, some 32 percent of T-Shares were being held by investors who take ecological, social, and governance (ESG) criteria into account in their investment decisions.

Also, Deutsche Telekom's sustainability reporting is regularly honored for its outstanding transparency, consistency, and comparability. In 2023, and most recently in this area, the company received the Building Public Trust Award and the ESG Transparency Award.

Click here for the CR report 2023.

About Deutsche Telekom: Deutsche Telekom Group profile

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Corporate Responsibility

Information about the ecological and social commitment of Deutsche Telekom.